82nd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what probably everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much more harder?”
Ravindra Varke. (28)
Courier- letters, delivery boy.
Ravindra is from Kolhapur. He arrived in Mumbai in 2004 to earn a livelihood, because of his family’s poor financial circumstances. He worked initially, for around 6 months, at a printing press, lifting the manufactured goods and loading them on to a truck for delivery. Post that, he worked for a courier company as a delivery boy, and has been working with them ever since.
About his education qualification he told me …. ‘…. because my father was not educated, he could not progress in life beyond a certain level, and could not afford to pay for my education after my 10th Std.
I had studied in my village till the 9th, and when I came to Mumbai to work, I studied at a night school to complete the 10th. I would work in the day and attend school at night. But my day job was physically so demanding, that I could not study much at nights and so I could not study beyond the 10th.”
Ravindra’s father was far less educated than him, and Ravindra’s own education had stopped at the 10th Std, because they could not afford to study any further. Education, higher education, is one path that can break the curse of generations of poverty and lift one above the gray clouds, I feel.
Had Ravindra not been 10th Std pass, I feel he would have, most probably, not got this job as a courier-delivery boy, because the profession requires the basic skill of writing and reading addresses mostly in English.
So Ravindra having the perseverance to complete his 10th Std. by studying at a night school did lead him to us one day, is something I would like to believe. And because he met me, our donor Meghna could reach out to him, because I am simply just that one link between someone who wants to reach out to someone who needs assistance to better his livelihood.
So how did I meet his fellow? Well, Ravindra had came to my place to deliver a letter, and while I was signing the receipt, I casually asked him did he walk or did he ride to my place?
He told me he had walked, because he had a bike earlier but it was stolen and after that he could not (save enough money to) buy another one. That’s when I simply knew that he is someone we could reach out to.
Ravindra’s father is a farmer and they have a half acre land in which they cultivate rice. However, it’s not enough to feed his family. Currently, he lives on rent with his wife and child at Prabhadevi. He has a younger brother who is also educated till the 10th and works with a Bank.
The first five to six years working as a courier delivery boy was very hard for him, because he could not read English properly, and moreover, he did not know the Bandra west area at all, so he had a very hard time locating addresses. But slowly, he educated himself to read English and to memorize locations. That period was the hardest time of his life so far, he told me.
Ravindra said about what he really likes about the courier-delivery work he does…
“… considering I am just 10th Std. pass, the job I have, delivering letters, is probably the best I could have had with such little education behind me. So I really like this job I am doing. I have been able to book my own flat, in a very distant suburb of Mumbai/Thane, and lately I have also been able to reinforce our house back in the village. It was never a strong house.
Furthermore, it is this very job that has made me capable of helping many young people from my village and district find jobs in Mumbai. See, where ever I go to deliver letters, I always ask if there is any job opening, and if there is one then I recommend an acquaintance or stranger who is looking for a job. I have helped about a dozen or less people get jobs in Mumbai in this way.
But I also face some peculiar challenges in this job, like, some customers shout at me and some even abuse me for arriving at their homes in the afternoon, when they are eating their meals or sleeping. However, they too are right in a way, because their sleep does get disturbed by us delivery boys knocking on their doors at 3 pm. But what can we do, our delivery route is such that we have no option but to ring their doorbells in the afternoon too if their house happens to be on our route at that time!”
I once again pressed him to tell me what he really likes about the job he does.
He replied, “The best things about this job are you can earn a decent life with honesty and hard work. Without compromising on your values!”
I remembered a quote from a book, I think most of us most have worshipped this book during our senior school or early college years, – The Fountainhead.
The author Ayn Rand says – “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what probably everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much more harder?”
True. Let us never negotiate out of fear! But let us never fear to negotiate!!
I asked him who is his best client/s and why?
He replied, “… those who inquire about how I am doing, and particularly those who offer me water sometimes.’
Water! That’s it!!!?
At this point I decided not to transcript his interview anymore, even though he did continue speaking to me about some more things from his life.
I decided to stop right here while transcripting his interview, so that I can leave you with just one thought – “Let us, wherever and whenever possible, keep a vessel of water outside our doors for such countless and nameless people; just like some ‘sensitized’ people keep water outside their windows to serve Birds.
These countless, and most often nameless, beings who arrive at our doors days in and day out, and most often they ask us for nothing except our signatures, rarely speaking even a word while at it, are they not as or even more precious than those winged birds we serve water to unconditionally?”
Happy Ganeshji Chaturthi to you all, my dear friend and acquaintances.
Thank you to Meghna Rodrigues and family for donating this new bicycle to Ravindra; he contributed more than half the cost of the bike.
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.
Thank you to Siddharth for Ravindra’s pic with the bike.